Plan for 2009 hinges on high growth, low inflation
Introducing the government’s social and economic plan for 2009, the Minister of Planning and Development, Aiuba Cuereneia, on 19 December told the Assembly that the economic growth target for the year was 6.7 per cent, while average annual inflation should be held to eight per cent. The estimate for inflation this year is 9.8 per cent.
Cuereneia said that export earnings in 2009 should reach $2.926 billion, which is an increase of 8.9 per cent on the projected figure for this year. Exports remain dominated by three products – aluminium ingots produced by the MOZAL smelter on the outskirts of Maputo, electricity from the Cahora Bassa dam, and the natural gas exploited by the South African petro-chemical giant Sasol. Together these three products accounted for 74 per cent of export earnings in the first nine months of this year.
The government hopes to attain a level of net international reserves sufficient to cover five months imports of goods and services. This is the much the same as over the last three years. Cuereneia noted that this is much more than the three months advocated in the Southern African Development Community Macro-economic Convergence Programme. As of 15 December this year, Mozambique’s net international reserves stood at $1.576 billion. Cuereneia said that the target for agricultural growth is 14.9 per cent. Key to this will be the construction or rehabilitation of 3,000 hectares of irrigation schemes, and the production of over 7,500 tonnes of certified improved seeds (mostly for maize and rice).
As part of its Food Production Action Plan, the government will import a further 110 tractors. 2,500 head of oxen, accompanied by 1,250 ploughs, will be distributed for purposes of animal traction. A further 193 extensionists will be hired, and the extension services should reach over half a million rural producers.
As a result of such measures, Cuereneia predicted a substantial increase in grain production, rising from 2.3 million tonnes this year to 2.7 million tonnes in 2009.
The plan also envisages a 10 per cent growth in the construction industry, resulting from increased public investments in roads, bridges, dams, and water supply. Two key bridges will be completed in 2009 – the new bridge over the Zambezi at Caia, which will be a vital component in the main north-south highway, and the “Unity Bridge” over the Rovuma river, linking Mozambique and Tanzania. Electricity and water production are targeted to rise by seven per cent. In rural Mozambique, 2,439 wells and boreholes will be opened, and 943 existing ones will be rehabilitated. 1.2 million people will benefit from this, and it will raise the number of people with access to safe drinking water to 55 per cent of the rural population – which is the target the government set for itself in its five year programme for 2005-2009.
In the cities and towns, 200 new public standpipes will be built, and 27,518 homes will be connected to the piped water systems, thus supplying a further 260,000 urban Mozambicans with safe drinking water. That means that 60 per cent of the urban population will have ready access to safe water by the end of 2009.
Cuereneia said that the transport and communications sector should grow by 12 per cent. He stressed the growth in the public bus fleets in the main cities - 100 new buses were acquired in 2008, and a further 29 will be imported in 2009.
The government plans continued expansion of the education and health networks. A further 809 schools will be built over the year – 393 for first level primary education (grades one to five), 380 for second level primary education (grades six and seven), but only 36 for secondary education. To improve the teacher/pupil ratio, 12,000 new teachers will be hired, 10,000 of them to teach the first five grades of primary education. 72 primary and secondary health units will be built or rehabilitated in 2009. The Maputo Provincial Hospital, in the city of Matola, will be built, and four other provincial hospitals will be rehabilitated. 2,078 newly trained health staff will be placed in the districts, and it is expected that 29 specialist doctors will graduate from the medical faculties.
Cuereneia said the government’s priorities remain centred on “expanding citizens’ access to legal services, and on strengthening the independence of the judiciary”.
New appeals courts should start operating in 2009, thus relaxing the pressure on the Supreme Court that so far has heard all appeals from decisions of the 11 provincial courts.
The government wants to see the productivity of the courts improve significantly, with a 15 per cent increase in the number of cases heard.